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 From an emotional standpoint, a case where someone is accused driving under the influence and killing another person is one of the toughest.  With the victim, you usually have someone who did not deserve to die.  They are often young, in the prime of their lives.  They are usually also close to the driver.  The victim is often a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or sibling of the accused.  Unfortunately, that person is not available to express forgiveness to the driver.
As for the driver, you often have a person who has never been in trouble in his life.  He may be college educated, have a great job, and a loving family.  But for this horrible incident he would have continued to be an upstanding citizen.
Recently, a San Jose woman pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter after hitting and killing a 79 year old grandmother.  She is waiting to be sentenced by a Santa Clara County judge.  Her maximum possible sentence is 12 years in the state prison.  In fact, the judge is precluded from granting this woman probation unless he finds “unusual circumstances” where the interests of justice require it.  According to statements, the family of the victim has forgiven the defendant, and believes that the victim would forgive her as well.  Unfortunately, California DUI sentencing law provides somewhat less opportunity for the Court to forgive her. 

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that, regardless of the outcome, nobody wins in these cases.  Regardless of what side you are on there is nothing but tragedy in these cases.  An innocent victim loses her life, and a contrite survivor is cast into the hell of the California prison system.  

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Earlier in March, Richmond, Virginia DUI defense attorney Bob Battle cast doubt regarding the accuracy of Fairfax County’s breath testing machines.  According to Mr. Battle, one of the machines used by the county, the 10-year-old Intoxilyzer 5000, has significant weaknesses.  Police officers and courts often use the results of this machine to convict a driver of driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia.

Bob Battle was representing a driver accused of DUI, when he discovered the weakness in the Intoxilyzer 5000.  According to Mr. Battle, when he received the records of the machine, he found out that one of the motors had been replaced.  After further investigation, he discovered that Virginia had purchased a number of replacement motors from various companies and that they couldn’t even tell you what motor was in the machine.  Without knowing the details of the replaced motors, the entire Intoxilyzer 5000 can be inaccurate.

The Fairfax County, Virginia General District Court judge presiding over the case agreed to allow experts to test the accuracy of the breath machine.  However, the prosecution wanted to avoid the testing and offered to reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving, which allowed the motorist to keep his license.  The deal offered by the prosecution was too good to turn down, but Mr. Battle believes that the breath machine will be tested one day.

"I sincerely believe it's going to be like that scene from the Wizard of Oz.  Once they roll back that curtain, they're going to find that this machine is not the perfect machine they try make it out to be -- that this is an outdated contraption. That's why Virginia, when they contracted for the new replacement machines, one of the conditions was that it couldn't have this type of motor in it," said Mr. Battle.

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